The traffic resembled a petri-dish of bacteria cells, colorful delivery trucks, taxi’s and buses with eclectic artwork covering every inch of open surface. Tasselled windshield borders and indiscernible numbers of religious symbols and luck charms dangling from rear view mirrors. The air was polluted with exhaust from damaged mufflers mixing with heat and humidity. Horns honked incessantly as if Pakistani’s had invented them and couldn’t resist showing off. There were no signs or address numbers, you either knew where you were going or you didn’t belong there. We knew where we were going.
The Sunfort Hotel was in a poor commercial neighborhood, overrun with beggars and the odor of raw sewage. It was dingy and poorly lit on the outside. Hookers worked all four corners, two on the hotel side two across the street. Already I felt like I needed a shower. Pulling up front, the doorman offered to park the Suburban, a bad idea and the last time we would see it. The doorman was not an employee, had never seen the inside of the Sunfort Hotel he took his orders from a Karachi street gang. Our truck would have been traded for cash a few blocks away and the doorman would move on to another hotel to finish the night-shift.
Inside was as bad as outside, low wattage bulbs embedded in a slow moving ceiling fan circulating the smell of disinfectant, human body odor and hookah smoke. We took the stairs to the third floor, Bull Casey didn’t like elevators, a year ago a UN security team from Turkey was gassed through an elevator air shaft.
The carpet was worn and pulling away from the baseboard of the narrow hallway exposing stained linoleum. I wanted this meeting over and Alex back in the Embassy. I trusted Casey but shit happens, we were in a foreign country meeting with avowed enemies of the United States in circumstances that, at best, were outside of our control. I knew the Black Hawks were circulating just out of sound range and that Seal operatives were on the streets surrounding the hotel disguised as beggars and hookers. I knew about the communications chip embedded under the skin behind Casey’s left ear. Still, this was risky and outside of protocol, if Linda Carruthers got wind of this scheme my career would be over.